I teach a lot. I mostly teach writing, though I do give a mean Beowulf lecture. I teach at University of Queensland in their postgraduate writing program, I designed the content for the Queensland Writers Centre’s Year of the Novel online program, I have mentored emerging writers, and I teach at the Queensland Writers Centre on a range of different programs: usually taking up about a dozen weekend days a year. I have been immensely privileged to see the slow waking of passion in writers, as they realise they can finally fulfill their dream of writing a story. I feel so appreciated by my many students, and now by my Faculty at UQ who have just awarded me a Teaching Excellence Award (this follows on from the Research Excellence Award I won in September, so colour me delighted).
But it’s time for me to take a little breather. Having two kids and one job is hard enough. Add into the mix that I am also two authors, and I teach in the community, and it totals about four jobs all together so unless I can figure out a way to survive without sleep, the madness has to end. I’m taking a year off from the Year of the Writer program at QWC and have been successful in my application for sabbatical from UQ for first semester next year. This means I get to take a semester off from teaching to work on a research project, and it also means I’m going to be spending a lot of time wandering around northern England and Scotland looking at the ways Vikings have been memorialised in local culture and tourism.
As much as I love teaching, I can’t tell you how pleased I am to have a break from it. I have a pretty efficient engine, that can run on very little fuel. But after the year I’ve had, I have a deep, deep need to fill myself to the brim with the equivalent of that fancy 98-octane middle-class petrol. (You see how much I need a break? My metaphors are starting to suck). Then I reckon, I can produce something wonderful.
Thanks to all my past students, who have challenged me to articulate what makes good writing and thereby made me a better writer.